At the office, you are the queen of multitasking and known for your pristine workspace. However, at home, it’s a challenge to keep things tidy, knock out a to-do list, and most importantly bond with your toddler. Knowing how to juggle a career and motherhood is not something that happens naturally or overnight so set realistic expectations. Balancing it all takes time, practice, and sometimes prioritization.
When you find yourself rushing every morning instead of enjoying time with your toddler, ask yourself what you or your partner can handle in advance to make it less hectic. Everyday jobs you do earlier in the workweek allow you extra bonding time with your child in the morning. Jacqui Boland, CEO and Founder of Red Tricycle, suggests simple tasks such as laying out your child’s clothes and packing lunch boxes at night. She explains that this will help you alleviate some of the morning chaos. Working mom Natalie Fischer explains she saves time by just making baby food once a week. For some working moms, the morning is the only time for genuine playtime because their kids are ready for bed when they get home from work.
Being extremely organized and having excellent time management skills will help working moms leave the office on time rather than getting caught up there. Barbara Turvett, executive editor of Working Mother magazine, suggests setting aside 15 minutes in the morning to prioritize your day. “Organize your schedule so that important tasks get tackled first as opposed to getting left for the end of the day,” she says. She also recommends blocking off the last 30 minutes of your day to avoid last minute meetings and to train your colleagues to respect your schedule.
Additionally, give off clues that you are ready to head out the door by turning off your computer monitor and putting away your lunch containers. “Treat scheduled pickups as deadlines,” explains Turvett. “That way you are able to get to them on time.”
It’s inevitable that your toddler will get sick, and it can be stressful for working moms. Thinking ahead and having a plan beforehand can help reduce that anxiety. “Have those plans in place,” says Jamee Tenzer, parenting coach and author. “Have those conversations before your child gets sick.” She suggests talking to your employer and outlining your rights such as the possibility to work from home. Alternatively, discuss splitting a workday with your spouse if you are not able to take a full day from the office.
Many working moms feel guilt-ridden for not spending more time with their toddler, but it’s all about quality time rather than quantity. “It's not about how much time you spend with your child, but what you do with that time,” advises Shamsah Amersi, obstetrician and gynecologist. “Listen to them, talk to them, play with them, and just love them.” Family time may not happen naturally for all working moms. Others may want more of it. “Sometimes, people feel like, ‘I don't want to schedule in family time, I want it to just happen.’ But you know what? It doesn't, so we really need to schedule it in,” says Tenzer. Figuring out what you really want such as more one-on-one time or more unstructured time with your toddler will help make it happen.